11 Dec Pearl Dental Software and Software Apprenticeships
Why BHA Software has a ‘grow your own’ skills policy:
BHA Software, the developer of Pearl dental practice management software, isn’t based in Silicon Valley (the area of California famed for its technology companies). We aren’t based in the Silicon Ditch either (the unkind nickname of the area along the M4 between Reading and London where many big software businesses have their UK head office). BHA is based in Leicester. This might suggest that we’re a bit off the beaten track followed by software developers fresh out of university. However, we see this as an advantage. We recruit locally, and with less competition for software developers, we get more time to find the right people.
Building a Team is more important than hiring stars
Our team isn’t quite like those from Silicon Valley or the Silicon Ditch. We set-out from Day 1 to keep things tight, focused, efficient and effective. Above all else though, we want to be helpful. To us is the key is to answer the question – how can we make dental surgeries and dental practices run better?
One of the ways we do this is through our recruitment policy. We specifically look for people with three qualities; practical problem solving skills, eagerness to learn, and the flexibility to do anything for any aspect of our business. Many existing users will have already met Russell who joined us last year as a trainee programmer. His enthusiasm is hard to contain, and he has worked on software development, customer support, and now on business development. This year we added another trainee programmer. Troy joined us in the autumn of 2017, so we ‘interviewed’ him about his experiences at BHA and what it means to him to be working on Pearl.
Meet Troy Hickling – Digital Degree Apprentice
How are you finding the transition from college work to on-the-job learning?
I finished college in June. I was ready for a new challenge and working at Baker Heath has given me a fresh start and something to look forward to. Before starting in October, I had been working as a waiter on the weekends, and giving my parents’ business basic IT help as and when they needed it. I found the transition easy and I’m much happier in a job then going to college as I learn better by ‘doing’ rather then studying theory.
When do you start your degree course and what are you most looking forward to learning/developing?
I start my digital degree apprenticeship in February. It’s a very flexible degree so I can take a range of different courses. I’m most looking forward to the programming side, particularly building applications. I will be specialising in Software Engineering. The course will be mostly on-line. It will be good to start a course that will be almost entirely my own responsibility, having to get work done and manage my learning with minimal input from tutors.
How has BHA/Ben helped with your transition into work life?
I started at BHA to gain some work experience before starting a job in Reading in November. Ben paired me up with Stephen who is developing the new Pearl Dental software. Shadowing Stephen made transitioning into work life very easy. At the beginning, I would sit with him and we’d work out solutions to bugs and ways to develop new features. Then I began using whichever spare computer was in the office to solve issues independently. After a few weeks I decided I’d quite like to stay on and work at BHA. Ben offered me the job in November, along with my own desk and computer, so I’d say the transition has been gradual, which has made it very easy. Plus, everybody at BHA are easy to talk with and always willing to help with any issues no matter the size.
Other than financial, what support would you like during your study?
I feel comfortable in asking for help from everyone at BHA. Work already supports my study as often the skills learnt on the job will help with challenges in my degree course.
What skills would you like to gain from working at BHA?
Other then completing my degree, working at BHA has already given a range of life skills that I look forward to developing further while I’m here.
What have you learnt already since your short time here?
Everything that comes with your first full time job. Time management, team work, customer service skills and of course a lot of programming.
Why did you choose Baker Heath (instead of your other offer/ in general)?
BHA offered exactly what I wanted. Having the opportunity to see how BHA works before being offered the job took the fear of unknown out of the equation. My other job offer was at a company with 100,000+ employees and had me dashing around the country every month – not something I was looking forward to. BHA is a small team, so any development you do here translates directly to the product. I can see the difference I make to the team and my ideas are always welcomed. Being able to stay in Leicester is a plus as I only live 10 minutes down the road and I don’t have to move away from family and friends here.
What are your goals after graduation?
It’s 4 years away so it’s a bit too long for me to think about!
And in conclusion …
We’ve gained a clever and creative trainee in Troy by offering him exactly what he wanted. We also had the opportunity to check he fitted with our company culture and service ethic before we hired him, and we’re confident he’ll be with us for many years. The apprenticeship and on-the-job trainee approach is already well established in the dental professions. It’s the way that most dental nurses gain their qualifications. And while there is always a need for staff already qualified and with more experienced, we intend to keep hiring locally and train our own as well.